I woke up yesterday morning from a dream that was so filled with emotion—you know how that is? You’re deeply immersed in dream reality and waking up the dream doesn’t slam shut, it slowly becomes waking, and the feeling of the dream carries over from sleep into consciousness.
I began to speak the dream to Bobby, groggily. Sometimes I will do this the dream is somewhat whole when I wake, to sort of pin it down with language.
It can be a burden to have someone tell you their dreams but for some of us, we’re lucky to have someone to listen and someone to share theirs, too.
Bobby got up to start this day and I began to text my friend who had starred in that morning’s dream:
“I was lying on a city beach, reading. A bridge overhead made it shady.
I was lying on my side, several small groups of friends of families were nearby. I knew you were staying somewhere nearby, too, and I was expecting to see you at any minute, we had planned to hang out. The feeling on the beach was post-warlike but old timey—like you’d imagine Italians going to the beach at the end of WW2, when the fighting may have ended and people could come out to the beach, but the cities were ravaged, silenced. It wasn’t the typical beach day mood, but one of shock, as if everyone was exhaling after holding their breath for a long time. Everyone was sort of stunned, sitting there in the aftermath of something that, if they were lucky to have survived, they had all lived through and shared. They sat staring out at the sea or speaking quietly, in fragments.
You stepped out of the stone base of the bridge, right near to where I was lying. We made eye contact but I understood that you had other people you had to tend to before we could hang out. You may have been living under the bridge, was it an Inn you were running? Many of these people knew you and you walked among them like a beloved proprietress.
You squatted nearby to talk to a young boy sitting with his father on the shaded beach. I understood that you would join me once you were finished with them.
“I’m going to be leaving.”
You spoke gently to the boy.
“Where are you going?” He asked.
“I don’t know yet, but we’ve packed up the house and we’re getting ready.” I knew that you knew I could hear you, that, like the boy, I was hearing this news for the first time. And that your telling the boy was also a way for you to tell me something that would be hard to tell me directly.
I was still on my side, unable to read now because my eyes had filled with tears. ‘Right,’ I thought. ‘It makes sense that she would move.’
After a couple of minutes you came over, grabbed a folding chair and placed it near me. I rolled into my back and looked at you, sitting backwards on the chair, looking at me. You were so vividly you, in the pair of pale jeans I’ve seen you wear and a pink long sleeve T-shirt. Your long blond hair was loose. You sighed, with a slight chuckle. I smiled but was crying still.
“So you’re going.” I said.
“Do you know where?”
“Are you going to stay in Los Angeles?” As if you might move to another part of the city.
“No, Berlin maybe, London.” I thought of you in those other cities; you could live anywhere, really, and make it work. You’d do your job remotely and come back to LA when and if you needed to.
“When are you going to leave?”
It was a bright sunny day, but the shady air beneath the bridge was cool. I heard the sound of the waves crashing nearby then realized, no, it was the sound of cars driving overhead. It had been silent earlier when I got there so this sound was new, the traffic was new.
I knew then that a great exodus was coming, everyone would be leaving, going other places. And that I may never be back to this place in my lifetime, that I may never see you again. I lay there feeling such tenderness and love for you, for all of the times we’ve been together and for what a good friend you’ve been to me.’
It’s the longest text I’ve ever written. I sent it.
I lay there crying—there was sadness, yes, but it wasn’t simply that. It was a fullness of feeling for the life I have lived-- places, and people, times. Did I love them enough? And, how can I love this strange new life more fully? It’s my belief that things will no longer be the same, there are people we may not see again, places we may never go. Things we love to do that we just might not be able to do.
I’ve always had large emotions, for me, part of the work of this moment is to experience them fully. Follow them.
I imagine myself getting up off that beach in my dream and walking into the ocean, there’s a sea dragon, which lives off the coast. He knows me. When I was young I feared him, called him a monster. We’re close now.
I swim out to him, take hold of one of the fins on his back and climb on. He begins to move, diving down to the depths of the sea and then back up, breaking the water, up into the sunlight. We travel together, my emotion dragon and me, he takes me around the world, shows me things. Hold on, I tell myself, just keep holding on, take it all in, it doesn’t matter if you remember it all, feel it as it’s happening. You’re alive.